Share this page Print

Cultural Plan for Calgary

What is culture?

Culture means many things to many people. In the broadest sense, culture is anything that defines the unique identity of a community or social group. Those characteristics often include social customs, seasonal traditions, geography, cuisine, oral traditions, fashion, literature, music and religious expression. However, culture also includes less obvious aspects of our lives such as heritage (both built and natural), community initiatives and the creative economy, which can include film and video industries, advertising, design and fabrication, performing arts and much more.

Calgary’s culture is as diverse as our population, finding expression across the city through art, food, fashion, dance, film, festivals, cultural celebrations, literary programs, walking and cycling events, community theatre, powwows and even pancake breakfasts.

There are over 120 languages spoken in Calgary. As our city and its culture continues to grow and evolve, we strive to define what makes Calgary special, and how we improve the quality of life for our rapidly growing and diverse population which includes First Nations, Metis and Inuit people as well as newcomers.

The Cultural Plan for Calgary

Calgary is joining leading cities in Canada and internationally in recognising the role of culture in shaping more livable cities. The Cultural Plan for Calgary is a roadmap for the planning and use of cultural resources to strengthen our economy and improve the quality of life for our residents.

In the face of a rapidly growing and diversifying population, Calgary needs a strategy for promoting the role that culture plays. The plan outlines tangible outcomes including:

  • Increased employment through the development of creative industries
  • Increased cultural tourism
  • Fostering greater cultural activity in our neighbourhoods

The plan identifies five strategic priorities: 

  • Maximize Calgary’s diversity advantage by appreciating, engaging and connecting Calgary’s diverse population
  • Grow Calgary’s cultural sector and creative industries by recognizing the economic and creative potential of Calgary’s not-for-profit cultural sector and for-profit creative industries
  • Activate culturally vibrant neighbourhoods and districts by increasing opportunities for neighbourhoods to develop a culturally rich public realm
  • Reinforce Centre City as the cultural heart of the city by realizing the area’s potential to support thriving cultural, tourism and creative industry sectors
  • Conserve and celebrate Calgary’s built, natural and Indigenous heritage by embracing a vision of heritage that includes natural, cultural, tangible and intangible resources

Some of the actions outlined to support the strategic priorities, include:

  • Building connections between ethno-cultural communities, Indigenous communities and Calgary’s arts and cultural organizations
  • Developing and promoting Calgary as a music, film and digital city.
  • Strengthening Calgary’s creative industries
  • Increasing accessibility of spaces for community cultural expression
  • Conserving and activating Calgary’s built and natural heritage resources

Strategic priorities align with Council priorities outlined in The City’s Action Plan and support a number of key City and partner strategies including ImagineCALGARY, Municipal Development Plan (MDP), Indigenous Policy Framework (in development), Calgary Heritage Strategy, Centre City Plan, Building on Our Energy (Calgary Economic Development), and Living a Creative Life (Calgary Arts Development).

With Council approval, we will start working with partners Calgary Arts Development, Calgary Economic Development, Tourism Calgary, Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary, Federation of Calgary Communities, Calgary Heritage Authority and other cultural organizations to build out an implementation plan that will enable us to fulfil the goals and objectives outlined in the Cultural Plan.

View the Cultural Plan for Calgary and Culture Shift, an overview of the plan.

How Calgarians have been engaged.

In developing the Cultural Plan for Calgary, we talked to a broad and diverse range of people from the community about what culture in Calgary means to them. The extensive consultation process was carried out between October and December 2015, and included:

  • One-on-one interviews and small group discussions were conducted with over 60 Calgarians that included representation from creative and cultural businesses, non-profit organizations, Indigenous leaders and youth, ethno-cultural leaders, young professionals, elected officials and senior management from The City of Calgary.
  • Seven focus group discussions were held and geared to the themes of public art and festival and events, The City and its external partners, culture and neighbourhood development, culture and Indigenous communities, culture and ethno-cultural communities, heritage resources and conservation, and creative industries and sector development.
  • Community soundings were held in six neighbourhoods.
  • Two online engagement platforms were available for comment
  • A statistically valid telephone survey of 600 Calgarians was administered to gauge Calgarians’ perceptions of culture and to understand current types of participation.
  • As of December 2015 more than 850 Calgarians have provided input into the development of the Cultural Plan. Your valuable contributions throughout the engagement process have helped us to fully understand the scope of our current cultural resources and start planning for future needs and opportunities.
  • Please review the What We Heard report and view the video to see what Calgarians had to say.